The Washington Times - March 13, 2008, 07:43PM
Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl

Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl of the Archdiocese of Washington discusses Pope Benedict XVI’s upcoming U.S. visit


Video by Christian Fuchs\ \ \ \ \ First, the press conference, which included Archbishop Wuerl and the Most Rev. Timothy Broglio, the new archbishop for the military services. \ \ \ “I expect what he’ll do is confirm us in our faith,” Archbishop Wuerl said when asked what Catholics could expect from this visit. “We’ll hear him try to strengthen us in the faith. That is one of the tasks of Peter. It will be a very spiritual message. He’ll be reminding us there is a spiritual dimension to all of human life.”\ \ \ When asked what sort of person the pope is, Archbishop Wuerl said Americans will experience “a warm, caring, kind person who happens also to be extremely bright, very intelligent and extraordinarily capable.”\ \ \ Archbishop Broglio, who has spent many years in Rome, fleshed out Benedict’s character: A dignified but reserved man who tends to not have guests at meals nor at his daily Mass.\ \ \ “His public schedule is less ambitious than his predecessor,” said the archbishop, referring to the more gregarious John Paul II, “but he maintains his studying, writing and rest.” \ \ \ And his 4 p.m. walk through the papal gardens. \ \ \ As for the April 17 Mass at Nationals Stadium, “Priests from all over the country are coming to concelebrate with the pope,” Archbishop Wuerl admitted, “far more than we anticipated.”\ \ \ Of the 45,000 people who will cram themselves into the stadium, the few non-Catholics in the crowd will include some 20-25 religious leaders from other faiths. \ And then there’s us in the media; archdiocesan spokeswoman Susan Gibbs said officials have gotten 3,600 applications from the media alone — listed on 13 single-spaced pages — for the open air Mass. About one in 20 of those applicants will make it in.\ \ \ “A big chunk of tickets will stay here because we’re the host and we’re doing all the work,” Archbishop Wuerl said. Parishes drew by lottery the stadium seating locations for their members. Tickets won’t be sent out until about two weeks before the Mass, making it harder for them to be sold on eBay.\ \ \ He also described the attitude of the overworked folks at the chancery as “holy exhaustion.” No argument there.\ \ \ When asked what the pope will say to the multitudes who gather to hear him, “I think he will affirm us in the faith. And I think he will challenge us to live it out.”\ \ \ Less than an hour later, he was at the Washington Times building, at a pre-arranged lunch with writers and editors here. The staff here asked him all sorts of questions, ranging from (naturally) the papal trip to immigration, Iraq, Catholic schools and the Internet.\ \ \ We wanted to know how he would help celebrate the pope’s 81st birthday on April 16.\ \ \ “I am trying to find 81 candles,” he joked. There will be a cake, he added, probably presented to the pope during lunch at the papal nunciature on Massachusetts Avenue. \ \ \ He also revealed he will riding about Washington in the famous pope mobile. Not only will there be a parade route near Catholic University in Northeast, but apparently there will be some kind of viewing of the pope as he leaves the White House and returns to the nunciature.\ \ \ I pressed him a bit for details on his movements during the pope’s three days in the District.\ \ \ “The instructions we received from Rome was that, ‘When the pope arrives, you’ll become part of his entourage. That is, don’t expect to get home,’” he joked.\ \ \ — Julia Duin, assistant national editor/religion, The Washington Times